On his campaign website, our new U.S. Senator Jon Tester said, regarding immigration: "Our first priority must be to secure ports and borders to keep out terror threats, illegal drugs and illegal immigrants. [I oppose] amnesty for those who are here illegally. People who want to come to America should follow the rules ó and we should enforce them. There should be no cuts in line. Moreover, hiring illegal aliens is no joking matter. [I believe] we need to enforce the law on employers who hire illegal immigrants no matter who they are. Itís not just a matter of fairness ó itís a question of national security."
Bravo! But I'm concerned Mr. Tester may not fully appreciate the hornets' nest he has walked into. No doubt he will be pressured to help amnesty more than ten million illegal aliens. Likely he will also be browbeaten into helping the Senate's elite shove enormous increases in legal immigration down our throats, even though a strong majority of Americans want less, not more, immigration.
Indeed, it's clear that most citizens have had it with mass immigration. For one example among many, a neutrally-worded poll commissioned last fall by the Center for Immigration Studies showed that 68% of voters nationally think legal immigration is too high, and 76% agreed that we have so many illegal aliens in our country because enforcement efforts have been "grossly inadequate."
Further, no candidate won in November by campaigning on amnesty for illegal aliens. In fact, many Republican incumbents were defeated by Democrats claiming to be tougher on immigration enforcement! And in Arizona all four pro-enforcement ballot initiatives passed with more than 70% voter approval.
Yet, in the face of this staunch public opposition, what did the U.S. Senate do in May 2006 but whoop through a bill (S2611) that would essentially open our borders to the world. Their bill --- fortunately stymied in the House by Representatives who remembered they work for the American people, not vice versa --- is best described as 600+ pages of outrages with a bit of enforcement fluff thrown in as a smokescreen. It's hard to believe most senators even skimmed this monstrosity they were voting on.
Beyond its illegal alien amnesty, S2611 included items like millions of new "guestworkers" who would never have to go home and changes in asylum law that make a shouting match with one's husband a ticket for permanent U.S. residency. (Historically, asylum was strictly for people subject to political persecution in their home countries.)
Only the amnesty received much news coverage. The doubling of legal immigration to about 2 million per year was rarely mentioned.
The Senators leading the effort to ram this one through --- principally Kennedy (D-MA), McCain (R-AZ), Martinez (R-FL), and Reid (D-NV) --- monotonously insisted that S2611 didn't contain an amnesty because "all of these [illegals] would have to pay back taxes and fees, take English and citizenship classes, and go to the back of the line to become citizens," to quote a staffer of our own Senator Baucus.
But citizenship is essentially irrelevant to most illegal aliens. So this insistence evades the central point: Whether or not one calls it "amnesty," those affected don't have to leave the country. Instead, they obtain legal status, which is their Holy Grail, and thereby reap full access to American infrastructure and social services.
It's worth quoting what Sen. Kennedy said when he was floor leader in 1965 for passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) amendments that directly provoked today's tsunami of legal and illegal immigration. A pertinent excerpt: "I want to comment on what the bill will not do. First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same. Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset. Contrary to the charges in some quarters, S.500 will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area."
His predictions were grossly wrong. Historian Theodore White later wrote that the 1965 INA amendments were "probably the most thoughtless of the many acts of the Great Society."
Senator Kennedy was probably sincere back then --- he simply (like most other senators in 1965) had a cloudy crystal ball. But having lived this history, what can he be thinking now, with his repeated pushes for mass amnesties and enormous boosts in legal immigration?
So I hope that Sen. Tester will keep his word on amnesties and will recognize that --- for a country already straining with 300 million people --- legal immigration needs to be greatly reduced, too. And he might consider that, unlike in 1965, legions of citizens pay close attention to what our ruling class does on immigration.
A parting thought for Sen. Tester: Whatever you want to accomplish for the American nation as a U.S. senator will be moot unless we rescue our country from mass immigration.
Paul Nachman, of Bozeman, is a retired laser physicist who learned all about mass immigration while living in Southern California from 1996 to 2005.